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Some dinner parties require a more formal protocol. For example, a military dinner will have strict guidelines as to where personnel will sit. If you are hosting a client dinner, you might also prefer a more formal arrangement. Even in a casual setting, you can choose to follow protocol to honor a special guest. The below description is based on a social party (vs. business), a rectangular table, and includes both men and women:

When hosting a dinner party, where you place your guests around the table is a crucial element for the success of your event. You presumably put thought into who you invited to the gathering. Do not stop there. The placement of each person around the table is something that should not be thrown together at the last minute.

I love entertaining friends and family in my home, especially during the holidays. But I must admit, it can be a bit overwhelming hosting a dinner party in the stage of life with little ones running around. The cooperation I receive from my toddlers is a significant factor in how efficient I am on a daily basis. Add in hosting a party, and it can be overwhelming. If you find yourself wanting to gather friends for a festive evening, here are my tried-and-true tips for entertaining with young children:

Planning a party can be fun, but do you know the best way to ensure everything runs smoothly? Have a rehearsal for your party. Yes, you heard correctly. You have spent a great deal of time planning your theme, creating your guestlist, and delivering your invitations. Now is the time to do a mock rehearsal which will allow you to create an action list of outstanding items around your home that might need attention. It also helps solidify any last-minute details.

These thirteen tips will get your through any dinner party. Here is a quick refresher. 

1. Leave The Cocktail Glass Behind:

If you are attending a dinner party, there may be cocktails offered before the meal begins. When the hostess signals it is time to head to the dining room, leave your drink behind. Why? The dining table has been pre-set with the glasses you will need and adding another to your place setting will only clutter the minimal real estate in front of you. Your palate is another reason to leave the cocktail behind. Many hostesses go to great lengths to pare wine with the food being served. Once seated at the table it is time to switch to wine or water.

You just received an invitation to a party, and the attire says: Shabby Chic; Razzle Dazzle; Cowboy Couture. What??? Word to hostesses: when listing the attire on the invitation for a party, make it clear. We do not want our guests to solve a riddle to understand what is expected of them. There is a phrase I like to quote, “To be unclear is to be unkind.”

Table manners are the area in which I receive the most questions, but it is introductions that have people the most baffled. After I explain the correct way to conduct an introduction, I often get that starry-eyed stare that tells me, “I really don’t understand what you just said.” To help all of us, I have broken down the process into a simple format. Before I proceed, let me say this. Do not let a lack of confidence in managing an introduction keep you from DOING an introduction. Even if you are unsure, most people do not care.

When attending a party, there are certain expectations we have of our hostess. We appreciate everything she has done, but we do assume there will be food, drinks, a clean bathroom, and a home that does not smell like the local pet store. What some people forget is there are also expectations of the guest. When a hostess plans a party, a great deal of time is spent deciding who she will invite. What group of friends go well together?

Have you ever seen someone walk into a party looking scared, so unsure of themselves, and then watched them slink off to an obscure corner? Their body language screamed, “I wish I was anywhere but here!”

You are invited!!! There is something special we feel when we receive an invitation. It is the anticipation of a celebration, the excitement of choosing what to wear, but more importantly, it is the affirmation that tells us, “I was chosen!” We know a hostess has responsibilities to ensure her party is a success, but did you know there are expectations of the guests? And your first job begins when you receive an invitation that says RSVP. Follow the six steps below and the hostess will be singing your praises!

  • Cecelia Zook

Roasted Turkey with Field Herbs Taste Test

Happy Foodie Friday! These recipes come courtesy of Penny and Eleazar Martinez.

Each of our Taste Test Reviews comes with the original recipe and the tester's notes/changes listed with the ingredient list in blue. We hope you enjoy!

Such a pretty bird! The Roasted Turkey with Field Herbs was a lovely dish on our family table. It was moist and flavorful, and the aromatic, fresh herbs seeped through the entire turkey. After about an hour and a half of cooking, I added a cup of chicken broth to the pan, tented the turkey with some foil and basted it every now and then. This wasn’t in the recipe, but I think it helped keep the breast especially tender.  The best thing about the recipe is that it was so easy! I had plenty of time to pull together some great side dishes for our gorgeous and tasty dinner. Bring on Thanksgiving, I am ready!

Roasted Turkey with Field Herbs
Download PDF • 2.34MB

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Time: 3.5-4 hours


*1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter

*1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

*12 sprigs fresh thyme

*6 sprigs fresh sage

*1 cup rough chopped fresh parsley

*1 fresh turkey (10 to 12 pounds) (Make sure to buy your turkey early and give it time to defrost!)

*1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon salt

*1/4 cup black pepper

*1 small yellow onion, cut in quarters

*7 cloves of garlic, crushed

*3 long carrots, cut in half lengthwise


*Preheat oven at 400F.

*Melt the butter on low heat, then turn off the heat and add the lemon zest to the melted butter.

*Remove the giblets out of turkey cavity and discard.

*Arrange the carrot halves across roasting pan.

*Take turkey and sprinkle the salt and black pepper in turkey cavity and rub well to evenly distribute the seasoning.

*Insert all the herbs, onion quarters, and garlic cloves inside the turkey cavity.

*Tie the legs together as tight as possible with kitchen string to securely close the cavity.

*Tuck the wing’s tips under the turkey body, and place turkey on roasting pan making sure it sits nicely on top of the carrots.

*Brush the melted lemon-infused butter all over the turkey and sprinkle a tablespoon of salt all around top of the turkey.

*Place in the oven and roast the turkey for 30 minutes at 400F, then lower oven temperature to 325F and roast for 3 more hours or until internal temperature of thighs read 170F. (After about an hour and a half of cooking, I added a cup of chicken broth to the pan, tented the turkey with some foil and basted it every now and then.)

*Remove the turkey from the oven, place on kitchen countertop, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 30 minutes.

*Slice the turkey, serve, and enjoy.

Recipe and Taste Tester - Cecelia Zook